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Thread: Tell me whether I need a Synapse? and which one? :)

  1. #1
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    Tell me whether I need a Synapse? and which one? :)

    ...or maybe the question should be "tell me WHY I need a Synapse" - these are the TB forums, after all!

    I want a new pack because last time we traveled internationally, my pack was uncomfortable and it was hard to find anything inside. It's a 10-year-old Timberland backpack (so I can't look up the capacity, but I'm guessing about 25-27L): in great shape visually, but weighs a ton even without anything in it, doesn't have ergonomic straps, and isn't well-organized. Basically I want something better for travel, but also want it to be useful the rest of the time.

    Background: we are planning a three-week trip to Europe this summer. We'll have a couple different places to stay, for several days at each location, and in between we will be driving. Family of four, kids will be 6 and 10. The kids carry their own entertainment, a few snacks/water, a minimal change of clothes. In my bag I typically have:

    - travel docs (passports, etc.)
    - iPad mini for my entertainment
    - sock-sized knitting bag
    - a book (guidebook - I will have other books on the iPad, but thought it would be good for the kids to be able to look at pictures of the places we are going to)
    - when I'm not wearing them, a thin SmartWool hoody (really more of a T-shirt weight) and SmartWool full zip (slightly thicker)
    - water bottle
    - snacks
    - a minimal change of clothes

    Optional:
    - scarf for extra warmth
    - wallet
    - whatever stuff we acquire en route (e.g. food we buy at a layover, to eat on the plane; kids' things that they forget, until I can offload them again)

    (As a family, I don't think we're quite at the carry-on-only phase. I think I'll challenge the fam to get there by our next big trip, presumably in another couple of years. Meanwhile, we can practice on road trips! )

    For reference, I am 5'0", usually a size S or M in shirts, so the S19 is a tempting size for me! Also I prefer the S19 colors currently available. But now I'm starting to consider the S25. I'm torn - the S19 seems like it would be great as an EDC, but I already have a beloved 16L pack (Black Diamond Bullet, circa 2004) which is small enough to force me to edit on a regular basis. So it seems to me the S19 would duplicate most of my EDC needs. Is it big enough for a laptop *plus* carry-on needs?

    On the other hand, the S25 would most likely give me enough room for any extras, but will it then be a special-use bag, only to be brought out for travel? For context, we've only flown as a family twice in the last three and a half years - in the fall of 2010, and then again just this past December. (This summer's trip is a special celebration for a family member's milestone birthday.) That's about the frequency I anticipate we'll fly, going forward. I could also see using it as my One Bag when traveling by myself.

    I do occasionally take my MacBook out of the house with me - just to cafes and the like, when I need some relative peace and quiet for thinking. Maybe that's what the S25 would get used for, when we're not traveling! (Oooh, just had a thought - maybe I can also use it as a gym bag? I can always bring along a tote to throw dirty clothes in, on my way out of the gym. Is it ridiculous of me not to want a Bihn bag to get all smelly? )

    (I have also considered the Western Flyer on and off. I feel like I don't travel enough right now to make it worth having a dedicated bag for carry-on. I'm not ruling it out for later, though! )

    Help!! I have a "few" things on backorder right now, so am tempted to add a pack and so save on shipping. What to do?

  2. #2
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    If your MacBook is 13" or smaller, then it will easily fit in a Synapse 19 with all of the items you have mentioned. If it is a 15" MacBook Pro, then you would need the Synapse 25.
    Synapse 19, Travel Tray, PCSB, Western Flyer, all in Dyneema, Side Effect and pouchmania

  3. #3
    Registered User Ilkyway's Avatar
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    This wont help: I have both because I tent to put thinks in my bag until it is full. Than I walk about and think 1. My bag is too small. So I take out the S25 (or the SA ca. same sice) and stuff this one till it is full. Than I think 2. my bag is too heavy. So I take out everything but all the stuff aside that I do not need on a daily basis and take the S19 again. But inevitably this one will get full and I will need a bigger one and so it starts all again.

    I do not know your current EDC-Backpack but 3 L is a lot in this range. And the S19 is build so good that it might even feel more than 3 L that you gain in space. (Just an afterthought)

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    Canonsue that's good to know, thank you! It's a 15" (measured diagonally, do I recall that correctly?).

    I do have other bags that I can use for the occasional toting of the MacBook, so laptop transport is a secondary or tertiary consideration.

    If I can justify "gym bag" as an regular alternate use of the S25, that would be a strong vote in its favor. My gym gear consists of mainly a bulky gi/judo-style uniform that doesn't stuff down very easily. I usually bring a canvas tote for the gym stuff + 16L EDC backpack... I guess if I had the S25 I'd have to change the way I pack - it would be gym stuff in the S25 and EDC in a smaller bag/purse.

    On a different note - I see Steel is not currently an option in the S25, but Darcy's post said "temporarily out" of Steel Dyneema... I take it that means I can expect to see Steel at a later date? (Though perhaps not in time for our summer trip...)

    ilkyway haha I know the feeling! My husband calls me the bag lady (affectionately, one hopes ). It's not unthinkable that my collection might someday include both sizes. But for now I can only consider one of the two!

  5. #5
    Registered User Tachiyaku's Avatar
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    I would say go for the S25 for the load you mentioned, especially if you already have a bag in the smaller category. While the load you mentioned (inc. Laptop) may fit in an S19, I find that when it is overstuffed it's not super comfortable to carry. If your macbook is a 13 inch and you go for the S25, I highly recommend you get the cache with rails option for it.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
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  6. #6
    Registered User Ilkyway's Avatar
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    If I understood Darcy right Steel for the outside of Bags will be retired for now. So if you need it this summer I would not wait for Steel. (I am talking about dyneema but it just accured to me, that you might mean parapack?)
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  7. #7
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    I think you would be better off with the S25.

    For international travel the S19 fills up pretty quickly, I took mine and had to leave my Field Journal Notebook at home.
    I had all paperwork reservations, official documents, two currencies, over the counter meds, prescriptions, full sized headphones, iPad mini in Zagg Keyboard case, toiletries, accessories, girl stuff, hat, sun and reading glasses.

    Carry on luggage was an Aeronaut, the Small Cafe Bag was stowed in it.


    For adult sized clothing gym, martial art, dancing, as well as cycling for commuting, long distance travel or with a child, the S25 is better.

    I alleviate the S19 lack of space with multiple bags add ons: The Small Cafe Bag and the Shop Bag but one cannot do that during plane travel.
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  8. #8
    Registered User kkintea's Avatar
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    If you're interested in the S25, I just saw a tweet about new color options on backorder. For some reason, these are not all appearing in the dropdown menu...

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  9. #9
    Registered User scribe's Avatar
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    I agree with the above - the S19 is great as an EDC (like your current 16L pack), but will be a really tight squeeze for the stuff you list. To give you an idea of scale, I carry an Acer Chromebook in a 13" MacBook Air case, and that pretty much fills the height of the S19.

    AFAIK, exterior 400d Steel Dyneema has been discontinued indefinitely, so black is your only option in Dyneema for the foreseeable. The temporary shortage was in 200d Dyneema lining fabric, in several colours including steel.
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    Collections:
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    Hoping for: FJN for iPad Mini; more bags in Aubergine; the return of Portable Culture!

  10. #10
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    Just to note, I just returned a steel dyneema S19 so you could email and ask about it if it is the bag you want.
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  11. #11
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    Hello

    I think an S25 or perhaps a Smart Alec (similar size) might work for you. Either way, if taking your Judogi / gym gear, I would get a Dyneema Shop Bag to put your gym stuff in before putting that bag inside of the backpack so that you do not get the backpack dirty (the Shop bag acts like a waterproof section).

    I suggest the Smart Alec as another option because it might be a bit easier to get your gym stuff in and out because it is essentially designed as a vertical duffle bag. You could also put your shoes on the outside bungle straps giving even more room. But, it really comes down to how you organize things. The Smart Alec requires you to do some organization while the S25 provides more set organization - but your needs need to fit that organization.

    BTW - if you are wondering how these backpacks we are discussing might look, see the link below - I have posted a few links there to some other forum member posts with great pictures of the many backpacks TB has:

    Photo Request: Smart Alec on a 5'3" person

    Also, another off the wall suggestion - if you get an Ego, I have found it very good for carrying gym stuff in a messenger bag format. If you get this bag, you could also carry your other Black Diamond EDC if you wanted too. With the QAM strap, you can carry it like a backpack too.

    As for carry-on compatibility, all the above will work well.

    Have fun with the 'journey' on deciding the right bag - almost as fun as getting the bag sometimes!

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 05-04-2014 at 02:03 PM.
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    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  12. #12
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    Thank you tachiyaku ilkyway backpack kkintea scribe leena tpnl for all the notes & suggestions! Am still pondering pondering pondering... I am tempted by the Nordic/Solar or Steel/UV in the S19, but it seems pretty clear that it's just a bit bigger than my current pack, so, perhaps not enough of an upgrade.

    The S25 would seem the next logical choice, but for some reason I am not that fond of the Black Dyneema on the S25. (I like it fine on other bags/accessories, just not on that model. Go figure.)

    tpnl your suggestion of the Smart Alec is really swaying me!! Same capacity as the S25 but a totally different shape. Certainly seems like it would be much easier to stuff my gi into a round opening rather than a narrow one. And I like the color options better. (wonder if the Solar lining is worth the weight differential... but then pet hair... and also, Aubergine... ) Hmmm!

    Many things to consider! Thank you all for chiming in!! <3

  13. #13
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    I'm going to voice for the S19, not that the S25 or Smart Alec wouldn't be great choices. Last May, my husband and I spent 10 days in Scotland. I took along my navy/UV Synapse 19, and it proved to be the perfect bag for the trip. It easily accommodated my Side Effect, medium knitting stuff sack, water bottle, umbrella, travel docs/book, hat, sweater or jacket, iPhone, small camera (Canon), and snacks. It wasn't overstuffed, and as we walked everywhere for most of the day, it was also very comfortable. Of course, I didn't take my iPad out with me for these trips.

    As a bag for me back in the states, it handles everything I throw at it and more. I use it to carry school work, my iPad, large knitting projects, and more. I don't carry a laptop around anymore (thank goodness) so that is why I've never felt the need (although I still wish for) a S25.

    My husband, who is 6'1" even wants the S19 over the S25. He's seen how I utilize the bag and feels the 25 is overkill for what he would want to do with the bag. I, myself, and 5'6". Hope this is helpful to you!

  14. #14
    Registered User TavaPeak's Avatar
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    The S19 is a great daybag - the organization is terrific. I used mine as a personal item for a trip to Europe in March. It was a tight fit for everything I wanted on the plane, but was the right choice, because of its utility for everything else. The S19 is very comfortable to wear (even when heavy), and with the waist belt cinched tight, it fit nicely on my carryon roller. You may be surprised how much the S19 holds, due to the organization. I ordered both for comparison, and ended up keeping the S19.

    Don't know if you've seen the threads about the Side Effect used with double-carabiner clips on the plane. My 14 yo son had a Dyneema SE for the plane, and so did I. If your kids' "seat necessities" fit into a SE, this is a great option. Super organization, fits neatly in front of your seat, and everything is right at hand. Keeps small items out of icky seatback pockets. Easy to toss into a backpack at the end of the flight, or kids can wear them as a crossbody bag or fanny pack. This is a great solution for families, IMHO. The SE fits my NExus 7 easily - you'll have to check if it fits an iPad mini. Tyler's SE carried a small journal, half-size colored pencils, pencils/pens, water pen, iPod touch, gum, and old Nintendo DX. (They never seem to give those up. ;-)

    One thing I liked about S25, is that the front pockets on the 2 sides are bigger. They held an SE on one side and a 3D organizer cube on the other (which I use for a TSA 3-1-1 bag) quite nicely. I decided the S19 would fit better under the seat (I'm tall and need legroom), and that was a good call. But one day, I may re-order that S25.
    Last edited by TavaPeak; 05-05-2014 at 06:46 AM.

  15. #15
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    Thanks Mausermama, and Tavapeak! Super-helpful to know what you carried in your S19. I am totally in love with it as an EDC, I'm just trying to be good and not duplicate a type of bag that I already own. (Not that it couldn't happen, after all I own many black jackets and many pairs of black shoes... )

    A few more queries to all Bihn forum experts in general... Another wrinkle that occurred to me is that I usually bring my SLR with me, with one small zoom attached (24-105) and a fixed (50mm f1.4) in reserve. In the past I've carried a small Lowe pack just for the camera, treating it as my personal item, and the aforementioned unwieldy 25L pack as my carryon. But now as I look at posts about the SA I see many folks use it as a camera bag on hikes... I wonder if an insert will allow me to combine two bags into one?? But then is that an incredibly heavy carryon for someone my size?

    (and the other option I was considering was to suck it up and buy a better point-and-shoot to really lighten the load, but I've been using an SLR since the good ol' film days, so it's really hard to contemplate that option, especially on a long and scenic trip such as we're planning! )

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